Keith has been involved in fisheries biology and hydrology research projects in Alaska, Washington, Florida, and California. Currently, his focus is conservation genetics of Pacific lamprey with thesis work examining the spatiotemporal genetic structure of Klamath River lamprey revealed using adaptive and neutral single nucleotide polymorphisms. The research is fully funded by a 3-year GRFP award from the National Science Foundation. Keith’s desire to become a Fisheries Biologist has been innate in him since he was young, learning to row a boat in the Klamath River estuary before he even drove a car. As a Yurok Tribal member, Keith lives on the Yurok reservation at the mouth of the Klamath River and has focused his studies on tribal trust fish species. With a graduate degree he will be a much stronger catalyst for positive environmental change as he will be bi-lingual in speaking the language of advanced science melded with his traditional ecological knowledge (TEK).
The Klamath River dam removal project is one of Keith’s motivating forces, which will facilitate the repatriation of 500 hundred miles of anadromous fish spawning grounds. The results will be a free flowing river void of toxic blue-green algae blooms that currently require health quarantines each summer and sufficient flows to reduce water temperatures to prevent a repeat of the nation’s largest adult salmon fish kill in 2002. Keith also works for the stoppage of destructive logging practices which destroys both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife habitat. There is an important link between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems facilitated by anadromous fish species. They contribute essential biomass of marine-derived nutrients and organic matter to the food web of oligotrophic streams from carcass decomposition. The nutrients are an important food source for the redwood forests, bear, blue heron, mink, fishers, river otters, hawks, eagles, osprey, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, salmon smolts, mergansers, kingfishers, seagulls, and terns.